Normal Topic Judge Orders Mistrial Over Examiner's Conduct (Read 1472 times)
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Judge Orders Mistrial Over Examiner's Conduct
Jun 4th, 2006 at 9:38pm
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Suburban St. Louis woman accused of killing son freed


Associated Press

A woman accused of setting the blaze that killed her teenage son was released from the St. Louis County Justice Center several weeks after the state Supreme Court ruled prosecutors could not seek a second trial for murder, arson or assault.

Sandra Kemper, who had remained jailed for the last four years, left with her attorney, Susan Roach, on Thursday. Roach told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she was taking Kemper to a hotel for a few nights, then planned to look for other shelter for her.

Kemper had been accused of setting fire to her house in the St. Louis suburb of Black Jack on Nov. 16, 2001. The fire killed Zachariah Kemper, 15, while Sandra Kemper and several other adults escaped.

Police say Sandra Kemper twice confessed to burning down the house to collect insurance money. But those statements came after she was first given a polygraph test in which she denied any involvement in the fire and was told by a detective that she was lying.

St. Louis County Judge David Lee Vincent III initially allowed the jury to hear evidence about the polygraph test after prosecutors played her two taped confessions. Vincent then ordered a mistrial the next day, citing past court decisions that don't allow polygraph tests to be used as evidence.

"When I first saw the video evidence of the examination, I was shocked at the conduct of the polygraph examiner," Vincent said. "He was using a polygraph as a guise to interrogate Mrs. Kemper."

The Missouri Supreme Court last month ruled that Vincent was right to allow the evidence but wrong to order a new trial. Further, because Roach had objected to declaring a mistrial, a new trial would violate the U.S. Constitution's protection against double jeopardy, the court said.

Chief Justice Michael Wolff said not every mistrial bars a future trial but there was no proof that a new trial was necessary. Wolff suggested a less drastic course, such as reminding jurors that polygraph results aren't proof of guilt or innocence.

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Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box George W. Maschke
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Re: Judge Orders Mistrial Over Examiner's Conduct
Reply #1 - Jun 4th, 2006 at 9:45pm
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For more on this case, see, "The Polygraph-Induced Confession of Sandra Kemper" on the blog.

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Judge Orders Mistrial Over Examiner's Conduct

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